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TiVo

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Tivo Inc.'s eponymously named Tivo Personal Video Recorder is a consumer video component allowing users to capture television programming to internal hard drive storage. Tivo systems function similarly to VCRs, but use non-removable hard-disk storage, and contain much more sophisticated software to record programming - not only programs the user specifically requests, but also other material the user is likely to be interested in.

Tivos allow a user to specify programming to record by time, program name, or even more complex parameters. Utilizing an internal programming guide (updated nightly via phone connection to Tivo headquarters), the Tivo selects and records the desired programming. Programming may be stored until the large internal hard disk is filled to capacity, at which time Tivo must dispose of older programs. This practice of automatically recording programs for later viewing is often referred to as Time shifting[?].

Besides recording programs specified by the users, the units also can automatically record programs that are based on interests of the users; each time the users are watching a program, they can tell TiVo they favor that show or not. That is used as a profile and Tivo can start to record programs that might fit to preference to the users without explicitly specifying such programs. It was intended to change the way people watch TV.

In addition to recording specific programs, the Tivo unit constantly records the incoming television signal, allowing users to pause or rewind "live" TV within a short (generally 30 minute) buffer. This allows the users to watch shows that are still being recored. This is one of obvious advantages of Tivo over traditional video-tape-based recorder.

Despite its innovative functionalities and ease of use, Tivo has had a difficult time to penetrate consumer markets as well as other Personal video recorder. Many of adopters of Tivo testify that they love Tivo so much and they cannot imagine watching TV without it. Tivo, although, still has remained a niche product. Some argue that it is because cunsumers are unfamiliar with the system like Tivo, besides subscription fee may get people away to try out.

The Tivo PVR, manufactured by Thomson[?], was launched in the United Kingdom in the autumn of 2000. As in the US it acquired a niche market position, selling about 35,000 units over the next year and a half. Although user forums have reflected the US experience of not being able to imagine watching TV without it they have also criticised the company for failing to run an effective advertising campaign to promote the Tivo system, with the result that the PVR went out of production in the UK in early 2002. The Tivo service continues to be provided to existing customers, and the price of second-hand machines with lifetime subscriptions has soared on online auction sites above the original market price of 400.

In contrast to other PVRs companies, TiVo is well-known for the loyalty from the users like that from mac.

Hardware anatomy The Tivo unit was designed by Tivo Inc., which currently provides the Linux-based Tivo software and operates the subscription dial-up service (without which a late-model Tivo will not operate.) Tivo units are manufactured by various OEMs, including Philips and Sony, which license the software from Tivo Inc.

Tivo systems are based on PowerPC processors, connected to MPEG-2 encoder/decoder chips and high-capacity IDE/ATA hard drives. A typical Tivo unit can support up to two drives of varying capacity. Some Tivo systems are integrated with DirecTV receivers. These DirecTiVo recorders are interesting because they record the incoming MPEG-2 digital stream directly without conversion. This gives hackers access to direct pristine digital copies of television programming.

Some users are concerned about Tivo's ability to collect usage data from units via the telephone line; Tivo stipulates that (currently) all usage data is aggregated by zip code. Recently, some have complained about Tivo's aggressive remote software-update system, which has the capability to add and remove features without customer's specific authorization. Early Tivo units were marketed as being capable of functioning without a subscription to the Tivo service (although functionality would be markedly reduced.) Newer units are designed to be non-functional without a connection, and customers who have had their older units remotely updated complain that Tivo is retroactively violating their promise.

Various groups exist to "hack" the Tivo box (Hack Wiki (http://alt.org/wiki/index.php/TivoHackingLinks)). Tivo has generally remained on good terms with these projects, although it has lately begun to clamp down on many of the "back doors" in the software.

External Links Official website (http://www.tivo.com/0.0.asp)



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